New Zealand South Island Adventures

These past two weeks, I slept in a van and lived out my wildest fantasies. Not just any van – the mystery van. (No, we didn’t solve any mysteries).  Two amazing, wonderful weeks spent exploring the beautiful mountains of New Zealand. We started in Christchurch, and did a big loop of the South Island.

This was our route:

Christchurch >  Rakaia Gorge > Hooker Valley > Ahuriri Ridge > Queenstown > Mount Aspiring > Rob Roy > Haast > Fox Glacier > Arthur’s Pass > Castle Hill > Christchurch

For two weeks straight, we hiked trails with spectacular views that I’ve been waiting to see my whole life. The South Island has the most natural and mountainous landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life. Everywhere you look, there are mountains more beautiful than anywhere else in the world – the air is full of life and opportunity. Even the highways are surrounded by mountains and various other nature. How could I be bothered by 30 hours of driving when the view always looked like this?!

There were my favourite hikes from the two weeks we spent:


Hooker Valley

I’ve always been a sucker for some snowy peak mountains with crystal blue waters. Call me typical, but some things are popular for a reason. Hooker Valley has some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.



Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond was a battle. A beautiful, beautiful battle. To get tot his hike, you have to either take the gondola, or do the very, very steep Tiki trail. Since there’s no way in hell I’d pay 70$ for a 2 minute gondola ride, we took the very steep tiki trail – and wooow, it was great, but it killed us. By the time we started Ben Lomond, we were already wrecked – but it was okay, because Ben Lomond is beautiful all the way through.

Castle Hill

Kura Tawhiti is a sacred place with beautiful scattered boulders covering it.  Although there aren’t technically any long hikes on Castle Hill, it’s a beautiful place to walk around on a nice day. Of course, there’s the added advantage of hundreds of beautiful boulders! To climb! We had two days in Castle Hill for bouldering, and it was horribly rainy the first day. I was super excited for the climbs, so this broke my heart – but the next day, we were lucky enough to have an absolutely perfect day.

New Zealand stole my heart as a young girl, and it stole my heart again on this trip. What a beautiful, amazing place. <3 We did our roadtrip in the winter, which I would personally recommend – all the hikes were not too busy, and the roads were pretty much empty. The day was usually about 10 degrees Celsius, perfect hiking weather. We were comfortable in our van with just sleeping bags and sweaters.

We used the rental camping van passes, which are 25NZ per week per person – I highly recommend these, unless you are camping around Queenstown, or want luxury camping. The sites are very basic, with toilets, cooking shelters, and some have running water.

Would you take a campervan around New Zealand? Do you need any tips? Let me know in the comments!


  • Alex, thanks for sharing. I’ve been following you on IG too, you are having such a nice adventure. The MYSTERY MACHINE!!! Ha ha ha…now that is COOL…did you come across any villains who keep blaming those “meddling kids and their dog”??? LOL…very cool. I had an idea many years ago to travel across Canada for 6 months in a re-modeled van but I had very sick dogs…then I met my Alex, and those dreams kind of fell through, but I hope one day to be able to share that adventure with him – before we get too old!!!

    • Haha glad you enjoyed! Traveling across Canada in a van is on my list of things to do as well!

  • So breathtaking! No wonder it has stolen your heart. The mountain views are out of this world. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it there in this lifetime but I can enjoy it through your photos – and your enthusiasm!

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